Every year, many parents face an unsettling family situation. With little warning, their child’s behavior takes a noticeable change for the worse. They may become unusually sad or constantly disruptive. Their performance in school may take a noticeable drop. Eating habits change or they avoid their usual friends.
How does a parent know if this is just a phase or truly a problem? The best way is to become familiar with the warning signs of emotional and behavioral problems and to seek professional help if they persist.
Pay Attention to Warning Signs
A child is troubled by feeling:
- Really sad and hopeless without good reason, and the feelings don’t go away
- Very angry most of the time, cries a lot, or overreacts to things
- Worthless or guilty a lot
- Anxious or worried a lot more than other young people
- Grief for a prolonged time after a loss or death
- Extremely fearful, has unexplained fears or more fears than most children
- Constantly concerned about physical problems or appearance
- Frightened that his or her mind is controlled or is out of control
Experiences big changes, such as:
- Does much worse in school
- Loses interest in things usually enjoyed
- Has unexplained changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Avoids friends or family and wants to be alone all the time
- Daydreams too much and can’t get things done
- Feels life is too hard to handle or talks about suicide
- Hears voices that cannot be explained
Is limited by:
- Poor concentration, can’t make decisions
- Inability to sit still or focus attention
- Worry about being harmed, hurting others, or about doing something “bad”
- The need to wash, clean things, or perform certain routines dozens of times a day
- Thoughts that race almost too fast to follow
- Persistent nightmares
Behaves in ways that cause problems, including:
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Eating large amounts of food and then forcing vomiting, abusing laxatives, or taking enemas to avoid weight gain
- Continuing to diet or exercise obsessively although bone-thin
- Often hurting other people, destroying property, or breaking the law
- Doing things that can be life threatening
- Unexplained cuts and burns
- Extreme moods
How to Seek Treatment
If a child is displaying any of the warning signs listed above, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. A primary care doctor can help guide you in the proper direction by referring you to health care professionals who specialize in child and teenage behavioral issues. The counselor at your child’s school may be another good source of information. Help is available. Don’t let anything stand in the way of a child’s healthy future.
We’re Here to Help
Offering a wide range of programs for emotional and behavioral issues, Clarity Child Guidance Center is a not for-profit organization and United Way Agency specializing in treating children and teenagers. While we do accept commercial insurance and Medicaid, we also have many alternative methods to find a child’s treatment.
Our licensed professionals will help you evaluate your child’s situation and decide the next step. This assistance is free. A quick call today will start putting your mind at ease.